Growth In Christ

Knowing and Living According to Your Values

Paul Gotthardt2 comments683 views

How do you pace life for maximum joy and impact? In the last post (Pacing Life), I stressed the importance of spreading the joy, the blessings, the goals, the adventures, the risks, and the rewards over the course of your life. If you’ve not already read the previous post, I encourage you to stop reading this one and go back to the last post. It provides context and establishes basic understanding.

Pacing life involves 4 concepts: understanding, values, goals, and risk. We need to understand the concept of pacing life. I shared a basic understanding on the previous post. Second, we need to know our values and live accordingly. That’s where we pick up in this post.

What are values? Values are concepts that guide our actions. Values demonstrate personal convictions and priorities. At the church I pastor (, we have 7 core values that undergird the ministry: God Dependence, Scriptural Authority, Abiding in Christ, Spiritual Formation, A Community of Love, Gospel-Centered Living, and Kingdom Participation. Each value tells something about us. It shows our priorities, our pursuits, our platform, and even our perspective on life.

Listing core values is not uncommon for churches or companies. It is much less common for people. Most people have never taken the time to consider their core values—much less write them out. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot discern what we value.

Let’s say you have a friend who loves the best of everything. This person has the biggest house, the nicest cars, the latest gadgets, and the most fashionable clothes. This individual has remained single (by choice), is a workaholic, rarely takes vacation, and is very goal driven. You don’t have to see their “personal values list” to know what they value. It’s evident in how they live.

When pacing life for maximum joy and effectiveness, our values provide overall direction and they initiate the planning process. Let’s say you value family, God, working hard, a stable life, traveling to exotic locations, and financial freedom. You experience joy and fulfillment when you live according to those values. However, you will also see that we value other things that may get in the way: self, the opinion of others, “keeping up with the Jones’,” climbing the corporate ladder, etc. In the end, you can always discern our true values. How? We make time for what we value.

If we truly value time with our family, we will make time to be with family. If we truly value time with God, we will make it a priority to spend time with God. There are many things we value on paper that are less of a priority in real life.

When we neglect what we value, we lose joy. When we focus our time and effort on lesser things, that’s when we look back over life with regrets. Pacing our lives for maximum joy and effectiveness requires that we live according to our true values.

Step 1: The first step in the process would be to list the things you value. Write them out. You can discover your values by asking questions like…

  • What is important to me?
  • Where do I find joy (or happiness)?
  • If money were not an issue, what could I spend the rest of my life doing?

Step 2: Once you create your value list, categorize them in several groups: today, this year, two to five years, and somewhere in the future.

There are things you value that you can enjoy today. Starting today, you can spend time with God, play ball with your kids, work hard, make healthy life choices, etc. There are other things you value that need to be planned out over the next year or so. You may value education, but it will take you three years to complete a degree. That’s okay. Start planning the necessary steps to complete the degree, and then put graduation in the two to five year category. You may want to start a family, but it will require financial discipline for the next two years. Put “financial discipline” in today’s category, and “start a family” in the two to five year category.

Step 3: Prayerfully look over the completed list. Ask God if this list represents the life He wants you to live. If He convicts in any area, remove it. If He brings up a new area, add it.

Once you finish this exercise, several things will happen. First, there is natural excitement because you can see the life you want to live. Second, there may be a reduction in anxiety because you don’t feel like your “dream life” is slipping away. It can be lived daily over the course of your life. Third, there is greater focus and discipline because you have a personal life plan. You know what to do today and how to plan for the next step. Fourth, there is a sense of peace because your plan is based on your values.

The first step in pacing life is to understand the concept. The second step in pacing life is to know your values and live accordingly. On the next post, I’ll share some specifics about writing out your goals.

Paul Gotthardt
Is learning to live from the overflow of my relationship with Jesus; Husband, Father, Pastor, Church Planter, Author, UGA grad... football and UFC enthusiast.


  1. Paul,

    Great topic! Also, great to hear it in a non-business setting! Realizing and identifying your own personal values is not only a great lesson for being open and honest with yourself – you can start to really see how you fit with the different groups/situations you encounter in life and can make decisions to continue (or not) based on values being in alignment or being violated.

    For leaders, looking at what drives your group/team/department/company, I would recommend two high-level questions to get a 30,000 foot view of the values of the group. In a non-confrontational setting (not in your office) work these questions in to any open conversation #1. What is the best part of your day? – This helps the leader to assess what IS working with the groups culture (What values are present) then #2. What is the worst part of your day? – This helps to asses any violations of group member’s personal values (or it could just put other tensions out in the open, which is helpful). The next step (very important) is that the leader seriously takes the feedback from these discussions into account and starts to alleviate the friction/violations as reasonable, and can start to work to enhance the values present that have already been a part of the groups success. When the group sees that their input is playing a part in the changes, they will start to take ownership in driving the change in the right direction for the culture/values of the group!

    1. Great insight Jon. Thank you for adding another dimension to the conversation. I love it when people add a perspective that I wasn’t thinking about while writing. You are absolutely right.

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